The Weighty Truth of Obesity

Americans have always been fat. It is a part of our society, our culture, it runs in the blood of our clogged arteries to the smell of our hot-dog like sweat. We’re all familiar with Benjamin Franklin’s hanging gut, to William Howard Taft being pried from tub, and in more modern years we’re stuck with shows like “My 600 Pound Life,” “My Big Fat Fabulous Life,” and, of course, my personal favorite: “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” Now, we could sit here and say that the fast food industry is to blame, but y’know, I’ve never been one to blame a producer over their consumer and obesity is by no means a simple thing to tackle. But I’m going to try, so fuck it.

There are a multitude of causes of obesity as I’m sure anyone could tell you; I’d be an idiot if I said food environment didn’t contribute to America’s current status of obesity. Yeah, if there’s a $1.99 for chicken nuggets and I make only $18,000 a year, why would I not take that deal? This is cheap for me, cheap for the producer, and honestly, it’s a win-win in a sort of way. I’m consciously making this decision to eat this questionable food, this food produced so cheaply that it doesn’t even seem sensible. But, hey, I’m poor. This is what is convenient for me. This is what is convenient for most of the people in my community, hell, it’s Philly, we’re all fucking poor here. The socioeconomic trends will always reflect the health trends, poor people eat poor food, they drive poor cars, they wear poor clothes. That’s like me going to a slum and adding up the total of clothes they have and being surprised that it doesn’t amount to as much as a similarly populated community in Orange County. Is that not obvious? This affects America as a whole because America has a poverty line cutting across race, religion, creed, and any other generalizing standard we use to address problems.

Now, what else does poor socioeconomic status say? First, it states that not only cheaper(less healthy) options are chosen, but it could say that the knowledge of health choices could be less. Health isn’t emphasized anywhere near as much in low-income communities as much as the middle or upper class. Nutrition facts used to be “that white box on your food that says a bunch of irrelevant crap.”

In more recent years we’ve had this great health push sweeping across America and I don’t feel that we need anymore government involvement in our lives. That just seems overly liberal, why must the government have to regulate everything a person chooses to ingest? People are obese, yes, but this is a cultural problem that should be handled by the denizens of our culture. You start throwing taxes on “unhealthy food,” who knows what else they could throw taxes on? Also, what dictates “healthy food?” All things can be healthy or unhealthy depending on the dosage, it’s just a significant power shift for no apparent reason. The government loves to take advantage of the minority’s bad habits because they know no one is going to defend them. The government isn’t my mother and I’m not a 3 year-old. The only thing we should regulate are things that can possibly harm others through usage, McDonald’s isn’t fucking paralyzing and killing people like moonshine. I’m sorry, but if the government has to regulate your health, you don’t deserve your health.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Obesity is a problem and heart disease kills. The more the health movement is pushed, the more society and producers will have to reflect this. Tons of fast food places have had to change their menus already to keep up with the changing market, they don’t control the market—we do. We have to shove this movement in the mouth of the upper class, let it slide down the gullet of the middle class, and digest in the stomach of the lower class; this is something that will happen little by little, piece by piece with awareness and honesty. It’s not that different from the stop smoking movement, and hey, smoking has been significantly cut back in the past couple years. This is something that can be done without government regulation, people will reflect proper health trends if they have the income and knowledge to do so. And if they don’t, who the hell cares? Why are we concerning ourselves with other’s life choices, the old English proverb goes “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” The health movement is going to move on with or without them.

Obviously, this isn’t applicable to everyone. Some people have conditions, weak metabolisms, genetics and all types of inconvenient reasons that are making it hard to lose weight and becoming more prominent. We’re constantly surrounded by all these medications that bloat us, technology that claims we can be couch potatoes and get a six-pack, these wizards claiming that we can take a single pill and be He-Man. The truth is, there are no magical lose fat cures and we shouldn’t put laws or special taxes in place on anything that isn’t directly disrupting our society. We just have to take a deep collective breath as a society and acknowledge that a slow, delicious, cheesy-filled, deep-fried death is still a death.

ISIS must be dealt with. Swiftly.

Our country has many tendencies, the tendency to overly spend on military, bailout businesses as we see fit, waste taxpayer money, ignore the Constitution here and there, but I feel our most common tendency is to be a run-around confused ass bureaucracy. We lack our strength to be unitary when needed and right now, that is what is needed. This doesn’t seem up for debate to me, ISIS and any terrorist group that is a threat to us or any of our protectorates is OUR problem. What does it say to our other protectorates or any of our allies if we can’t step in to stop direct harm from coming to them? In a way, they’re an extension of ourselves and our self-sustainability and we can’t just let terrorists destroy our sustainability, can we? We have run around debating about this for too long, America is so scared of sending in troops to do anything after plunging as much money in our military over everything. Then, when the time that actually matters, we sit here pondering strategies like we’re at a god damn chess game. People are dying, allies are dying, Americans are dying, and little by little ISIS grows strength while our President and Congress play with themselves over what should be done here.

The answer is obvious, to send more troops. Every second that continues of this nonsense, we grow weaker and they grow stronger; a good snuffing is all that’s needed. And this isn’t something that we have to do alone, much like Steve Coll says in his article, the British and many others have an interest in extinguishing these groups as well. Egypt launched it’s first attack on these insurgents, I’ll give that it’s much closer to their homeland, but why is a country with only 1/4th of our population and a much weaker army quicker to act than us? We’re so stuck on the idea of being isolationists we can’t realize that we have grown far past that; the idea of isolationism is an old dead man’s ideal that isn’t meant to be taken so literally into the future. Yes, we should typically mind our own business. But let’s say this, let’s equate the United States to a singular person. We’ve been friends with our old pals Iraq, Syria, Egypt, et cetera for a while now. But this random asshole, ISIS continually keeps prodding and hurting them. We trade lunch, share resources, and even go to the after school club known as the United Nations. So, if we lack an the ability to act upon some damaging our allies, doesn’t that make us weak? Doesn’t that make us almost foolish? Wouldn’t we want the same if someone were to come picking on us? This is a very stretched metaphor, but only because I cannot in anyway try to come up with anything parallel to slaughtering thousands of people, some Americans in this case while we sit debating.

I’ve always been sort of proud to be an American in a strange way, I know most people would probably laugh at me or think that’s sarcasm, but it’s true. I’ve never been happy about people losing their lives or soldiers being sent off into war, but we all agree to these possibilities when we join the military or sign ourselves to the selective service act. Much like the famed Andrew Jackson(one of my personal favorite presidents) once said: “Every good citizen makes his country’s honor his own, and cherishes it not only as precious but as sacred. He is willing to risk his life in its defense and its conscious that he gains protection while he gives it.” We agree to defend our country and all it’s extensions, but this, this makes me sick to my stomach right now. I’m ashamed that we pick and choose when to be an isolationist state, Obama claims to not be condemning or condoning Egypt’s way of dealing with things. But, when it comes down to the matter inaction is an action. They mock our very values and way of life; ISIS does not discriminate specifically against Syrians or Egyptians. These our people who believe they are mujahideen. These terrorist mujahideen are modern day Nazis who want to snuff out anyone who doesn’t agree with their way of life, they believe we should be “humbled to ash.” You can argue the point that if we get involved we may see repercussions on our side, but we’re already seeing that. We could lose much more by sitting idle rather than getting involved, we’ve lost American journalists, American soldiers, and allies already to this. Why’re Americans dying for nothing other than their way of life? That is just sad and despicable, if not the duty to our allies, let us at least do the duty to our citizens. This is not about blood for blood, this is about blood for peace. What is needed is a strong central decision, one that is not so afraid of displeasing or satisfying our people, but seeing and doing what you know is right for them. And most Americans as I know, want these bastards dead and flayed. Our country is so post-9/11 that our leaders are afraid to stand up anymore, George Bush senior was never afraid to combat terrorism and lock it down without fail. Why must we be? We need a strong decision, justice is blind and justice is swift. Justice does not wait until thousands more are dead, justice delivers the blade strong and without question. Justice slays every head of every terroristic hydra until it falls beneath the scales of right and wrong. But this isn’t about right and wrong, this isn’t even really about justice, this is about politics and every political decision we make will either make us stronger or weaker. The question is to you, my dear reader, do you truly think that leaving a terrorist group unchecked and damaging our allies will make us weaker or stronger in the long run?

Inclusion is the Conclusion

We are a society. We are a part of our society from the moment we are born to the moment we die. This is a fact, thus we should act as a unit and move together as a society. That being stated, there is no reason good enough to exclude special needs’ children simply because they perhaps catch on slower or lack the same physical capabilities as other children. These are children for fuck’s sake; if we exclude them from a classroom and place them separately what does that say to them? You can sugarcoat it however you want, but it says, “You are not on the same level as the rest of the people here. Therefore, we set you aside and chose to ostracize you because we felt that you’d be a disruption or inhibition to your other, much superior peers.”

Let me continue, by saying this Vanessa Romo has flayed me and stolen my heart with this empathizing article that reflects the truths and ways that we should be dealing with this. At some point in time, most of us have wanted to fit in whether it be when were as young as six or as old as thirty. We all just want to blend with the crowd, so much that Echosmith has to remind us about it every 5 minutes. (For those of you living under a boulder, here.)

But besides the MTV music, my point is clear, exclusion just makes everyone and everything perform worse when it’s meant to be done as a unit. Not as a special unit, not as a slower-to-learn unit, I’m talking about the same basic format we use for everyone. If we exclude these children now, how will their peers respond let’s say when they’re adults or even teenagers? They’ll feel different, they won’t feel like the same people that they normally associate or speak to throughout their day. I mean yes, you can tell people right and wrong and say what is politically correct, but that doesn’t definitively state that they won’t be rejectful of them. As stated by many famous people throughout history, ignorance begets fear and fear begets hatred and hatred begets violence. Now, I’m not saying that people are going to take to the streets beating up mentally or physically handicap people. But what I am saying is the more that this exclusion happens the more it will stay embedded in our society, the more damage it does and the more it will take root. We must be the gale that does not allow this to create some falsehood that special needs’ citizens or children should be any less a part of our society than us.

But then you might go, “but oh, flayedman they can’t interact on the same level as the other children, we’d have to deter the general learning of the entire class.” But the truth is, you wouldn’t. People don’t have teaching degrees for no god damn reason, we just need someone experienced and qualified enough who is willing to go the extra mile for these children. Let’s think what could happen to them in the long run if left excluded. Their very confidence, their grasp of being a person could truly be hurt. America would love to classify them as too stupid to understand that they’re being barred from a normal classroom, do you know how low that could make them feel? What confidence does someone have left when in a world they’re declared lower before even being given an actual chance? And in a way, don’t we all have our own flaws? Couldn’t one of us wake up tomorrow and be told, “Oh yeah, you’re actually diagnosed with this social disorder.” Hell, we might already have one and it could just not be classified or examined yet. It isn’t fair, it isn’t just to do so. Isolation literally affects the psyche of people, and we’re placing these perfectly good human beings into the abyss that is loneliness and solitude.

Let’s go even deeper into this, let’s use an example here. We’ve got this boy named John; John has muscular dystrophy and let’s say Asperger syndrome. We isolate him into a group of people whom are defined as “special needs,” but John is smart. John lacks some social prowess of his peers and some physical aptitude, but John has knowledge and the ability to assess things like everyone else. If you were John, wouldn’t you think “Holy shit, there’s something wrong with me. I must be off, I must be different in a bad way. I’m not the majority.” And you take away his chance to really socialize and dismiss these fears. They progress and get worse as time goes on. John is 18 now, he still has muscular dystrophy and Asperger syndrome. But he wants to get a job, he wants to earn cash to pursue whatever his interests are–just like you or I. But when he goes to this interview, he lacks social skills, he lacks confidence, he lacks the complete ability to even speak because he realizes how inept he is at this. He’s never been in a situation like this, he’s not prepared. He’s thinking he must be off all over again. Just like we all would if we were alienated from a society rather than being treated like a real American. He doesn’t need to be thrown bones because of his special needs, what John needs is someone to focus on his real capability and help him expand upon whom he is–just like I’ve needed many teachers to do for me. John doesn’t get the job, not because of his disorder, but because we failed him as a society. We failed treating John like we would Billy, or Robert, or Greg, or me, or you.

Enough of this example, you get my point. You understand what I’m trying to say, you know why this is wrong, you know the reason we don’t do more is societal laziness and selfishness. We should move as a unit. We are unitary people and the only way we’re ever going to succeed in this world, unitary and individually, is if we’re all truly on the same playing field and treated as such. No real even ground exists, thus we make it. Now. I’m going drop the mic with a quote from one of my favorite and not so irrelevant books: “That’s the thing about human life–there is no control group, no way to ever know how any of us would have turned out if any variables had been changed.”
― Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon

How the Death Penalty Takes Lives

What is the worth of a human life? Is it invaluable or indispensable? Or perhaps its something as cheap as things we place monetary value on? Can it be bought? Can it be sold? Can it be traded? But most of all, can it be avenged?  A wise Alfred Nobel once said, “Justice is to be found only in imagination.” Human life on the other hand is not. Its something physically there, and who are we as a society to judge the actions of the owner of that life? Are we not gods at that point; stripping away the humanity and lives’ of the people? Do we not then have the right to take anything out of the world as we see fit? Is that not our right as citizens of this great country? This all seems vaguely familiar…

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The death penalty; an archaic idea that you can pay blood with blood dating back to as early as 621 B.C. in Athens, but we are not Athenians. The world is no longer in the time period of the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, the Dark Ages, or any of that crimson-stained history anymore. We’re not draw-and-quartering, burning, decapitating, or anything else to make examples out of people; not to mention at the cost of a possibly reformable or mistaken human life. This society is evolving and now is time to cast aside certain dogmas and dispense enlightenment. This morbid tradition cast in into the future by the uneducated past is crippling the idea of what an advanced society should become.

Does someone truly have to die? As a species, we are constantly looking for ways to better ourselves and for the most part, improve the world. The moment anyone is injected with a syringe of sodium thiopental and they slowly fall into their pre-death coma, their life is not just taken; the potential of something greater for our species is taken. In a way by killing convicts we’re killing ourselves. By no means am I saying that the act that placed them there or whatever atrocities they committed are tolerable, or even forgivable. But I’m saying justice has a line, and that line is drawn at life. Here’s an idea of how dated this barbaric concept is, just take a gander at the ‘Code of Hammurabi,’ one of the oldest and well preserved texts in human history dating back to Ancient Babylon, 1754 BC:

Ridiculous and silly, as it might sound. Sorcerers and wizards, as we all know can’t swim. We keep an ideal that is parallel to magic, I’m sure most people can fathom how ludicrous that sounds. But let’s take a long stride from this sense of morality and wizardry, and try to ignore the fact that we share similar capital punishment policy as Guatemala, Iran, Iraq, Cuba, North Korea, et cetera. Let’s look at facts, cold hard irrefutable facts. Let’s look at the mountainous evidence as to why we’re all losing.

Okay, I’ll start with the front-most in people’s minds. But it deters criminals, no one wants to die! The truth is, criminals don’t care. FBI data shows that 14 states without capital punishment still had homicide rates at the national level. Most murderers can probably figure out that their life is over either way, whether it be from behind bars or through a syringe. People understand the act and consequences of murders and it is not deterring anyone.

This Mr. Muhlhausen must have a Ph.D in bullshit, if he thinks for a moment this is saving more lives than it has senselessly taken. Data shows since the year 1973 more than 140 people have been released from their “death rows” with new evidence being gathered, while that same evidence shows that over 1,200 have been executed under false accusations. Could you imagine being falsely accused and being dragged through the judicial system like you’re some sort of a monster? Then after they leave you in a cell to await your impending death, you try to accept the fact that you’re going to die. Finally, they pull you from your cell or you trudge willingly like a broken person and accept death’s cold embrace while your loved ones weep with inability to do anything other than look forward; simply sobbing and wondering how you could have done such an act.

BUT HEY, guess what? We found some new evidence and you’re fre- Oh wait, you’re dead. You’re dead as hell, and the government’s a bunch of murderers. So, now not only have we let one murderer get away, we’ve wrongly accuse an innocent. We’ve made everyone in the judicial system, including the prosecutor, judge, bailiff, and jury murderers. We could all become victims of these unruly circumstances. And what can you do? Nothing. At least without the penalty they keep their life, at least they someday have a hope of getting out, but to take a life with no gain other than to pay a blood tax is incredibly disappointing. Disappointing is the word, because we should expect more from our government, you sign a social contract with these people when you’re born and you’re repaid with dying over a social stigma? Thomas Hobbes once described a world without government as “nasty, brutish and short,” shouldn’t it be the exact opposite in a world with it?

What about all the other variables? Almost all death row inmates can’t afford their own attorney, then there is local politics, location, plea bargaining, race, et ceterajust making this one big death lottery. Even on the racial statistics this is just an inefficient way of doing things. Jurors in Washington State have shown to be 3 times more likely to sentence a black man to death over a white in a similar case. In Louisiana, the odds of a death sentence are 97%(Ninety-seven here, people) likely to those whose victims were white. I hate bringing up race just as much as the next person, but these are facts. The south alone in our country executes more than any other region, what does that say when many other regions have more population and crime? Race and geography are factors here and it’d be not only foolish, but illogical to deny them. Sometimes there are racists, and sometimes a racist would love nothing more than to satiate their hate by sending some minority off to jail, regardless of the circumstances.

Last and definitely least, the cost. We as a country are known to be crappy spenders, but do you know how crappy? In Kansas, death penalty cases typically cost around $1.26 million all the way to the execution, while keeping an inmate in prison costs only $740,000. We use over $100 million in California alone keeping the death penalty instated, for a system that could potentially be as cheap as $11.5 million. We’re paying for the wrong things and people are dying in other ways supporting this, this is money that could be spent on education, sciences, social security, unemployment, and HealthCare; even military outweighs this.

And, you want to know the worst part about it? You’re paying for it. You’re paying the government to kill people. I know, it’s a disturbing thought. Because I’m a tax payer like everyone else, I’m no different. But we have to look in the mirror right now and ask ourselves; what is more important here as a person, country, and species? This isn’t a matter for tomorrow just because many people don’t get executed, this is about principles. Does this repaid blood debt outweigh all the money spent, innocent lives lost, and potential lost to this world? Must we flay someone if they flay someone we love? Or are we more than that? Revenge and vengeance can only quench a heart of darkness. And so, I ask you again, dear reader, what is the worth of a human life?